Mountainous country marks anniversary

November 18, 2004

ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra — With great emotion, William Danjon Dieudonne read a prayer at celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Baha'i Faith to this country.

Mr. Danjon, 80, read the prayer at jubilee festivities attended by Baha'is from Andorra, Spain, and France. Guests included representatives of Christian churches, the diplomatic corps, the Red Cross, and the media.

At a conference in Stockholm in August 1953, French-born Mr. Danjon decided to answer a call from the head of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, to establish the Faith in countries where there were no Baha'is.

When a keynote Baha'i speaker at the conference, the Hand of the Cause Dorothy Baker, asked for a Baha'i to settle in Andorra, Mr. Danjon volunteered.

He left his home in Denmark and arrived in this mountainous country between France and Spain on 7 October 1953.

He thereby became one of a unique group of volunteers who were responsible in just one decade (1953-1963) for more than doubling the number of countries where Baha'is were resident.

For Baha'is it was important that their Faith, whose principal teaching is the oneness of humanity, could offer its teachings in as many places as possible, whether the country was large or small.

Among the many countries settled by Baha'is in 1953 were Vanuatu and the Cook Islands in the Pacific, Cameroon and the Congo Republic in Africa, and Sicily in Europe.

Some of the participants at the jubilee celebrations in Andorra. Slideshow
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Some of the participants at the jubilee celebrations in Andorra.

The head of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, bestowed upon Mr. Danjon and all of the others who first established the Faith in those countries the accolade "Knight of Baha'u'llah."

"To come to Andorra was the most important decision of my life," said Mr. Danjon, who remains a resident.

"I liked the Andorra people from the very first and they liked me, I think."

In 1954, he saw the first fruits of his decision when two residents of Andorra, Carmen Tost Xifre de Mingorance and her husband, Jose Mingorance Fernandez, joined the Faith. They remained steadfast until they passed away. Their son, Jose Mingorance Tost, is now chairman of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Andorra.

Although it was difficult initially for Mr. Danjon to obtain a job, he has since held prominent positions in the media, the public service, and the Red Cross. He continues to write articles for the media on the Baha'i Faith.

For eight years, he represented the Andorra Trust Board in France, where he formally presented a book of the Tablets of Baha'u'llah to two French presidents, who, by virtue of their office, held the title of co-prince of Andorra.

The jubilee celebrations took place on 17 September 2004 and included a dinner, and musical performances by Marc Pia (piano), Silvia Gil (saxophone), Sebastian Esandi (cello), and Kati Evogli (singer).

Chairman of the event was the secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Andorra la Vella, Badi Daemi. The speakers were Antonio Gil of Andorra and Carmen Medina of Spain. Former members of the Andorra community, Olga Garcia and Juan Cisneros of Spain, gave a presentation about the Baha'i Faith. Prayers were said for the Baha'is of Andorra who have passed away.

On the day after the celebrations, an article about the event, accompanied by a photograph, appeared in the main newspaper of the country.

The Andorra community has one Local Spiritual Assembly. Like the rest of the worldwide Baha'i community, it is engaged in organizing study circles, devotional meetings, and children's classes, all of which are open to participation by the wider community.